How to Dispose of Old Cooking Pots and Pans (6 easy ways to recycle)

Properly managed cooking pots and pans can last for years. However, nothing lasts forever. Eventually, you need to learn how to dispose of old cooking pots and pans.

You can dispose of old cookware by sending it to specialized recycling companies or reuse it as décor, plant pots, or containers. You can also donate or pass it on if it can be refurbished.

While it is a shame when trusty pots and pans become unusable, it is an opportunity for a new purpose or simply new cookware. Learn when old cooking pots and pans are truly unusable, how to dispose of them, what to do with non-metal cookware, and how to make the new set last.

When pots and pans need to be replaced

We all want to get as much use out of a pan as possible. Unfortunately, there comes a time when the only option is to replace the pot or pan. Here are some of the signs your cookware has bit the dust.

  • It’s older than 5 years old – Non-stick pots and pans only last about 5 years. After this point, they will start to show their age.
  • The bottom is warping – Over years of rapid temperature changes, your cookware can warp, preventing it from making full contact with the burner.
  • It’s chipping, scratched, or peeling – Depending on the material, wear and tear will build up over the years.

6 Easy Ways to Dispose of Cooking Pots and Pans

Mind you, the steps you’re about to read do not support throwing your pots and pans in the trash can and to landfills once you no longer need them. 

If you have done that or plan to dispose of old pots this way, don’t. 

There are easy ways to get old cookware off your kitchen without breaking a sweat or putting our environment at risk. 

Let’s dive into them right away!

1. Try recycling your old pots and pans

You can recycle old pots and pans. However, this process requires specific machines, knowledge, and tools you might not have. 

But there are diverse metal scrap facilities that are more than willing to help you recycle your pans or pots. Companies like Terracycle are one such recycling group.

They remove the needed metal parts and recycle them into something more useful. Many metal scrap facilities also upcycle cookware to everyday products, such as watering cans and benches. 

Note the kind of metal your cookware has. Is it ferrous or non-ferrous? To find out, get a magnet. If it attracts the magnet, then it’s ferrous. If it doesn’t, then it’s non-ferrous. 

You should know this because most recycling centers accept non-ferrous (stainless steel, aluminum, copper) or ferrous cookware. 

If your old cookware is coated with Teflon, remove the coating before sending it to the scrap facility. 

But if you don’t have the time and energy, call the recycling center to find out if they accept Teflon-coated pots and pans. Please do this before sending your cookware to their facility. 

2. Use as Kitchen décor

If you don’t fancy sending your pots and pans to the scrap metal facility, consider using them to decorate your kitchen. 

You will love this idea, particularly if your pans or pots still look decent. But if not, no worries! Paint the cookware with gold, bronze, or any color of paint you want. 

However, gold or bronze paints will make your cookware look more attractive and neat. Just remove the Teflon coating so that the color will appear uniform. 

Besides beautifying your kitchen, your old cookware can serve other purposes.

You can use those old pots or pans to store items you regularly use in the kitchen. If the pots are handleless, use them to store your sponge and dishwashing liquid. And place the old pot gently under the sink. 

Station your large old pot on the baker’s rack to hold your wooden spoons and spatula. It will make your kitchen look tidier. 

Note – The kitchen isn’t the only place to use your old pots and pans as decor. You can also use them in the sitting room, for example. 

Place some firewood in your old pot or large pan, and keep it near the fireplace for some charm. Your old pot can also serve as an umbrella stand. 

3. Plant succulents in your pots and pans

Another way you can use your old pots and pans is to plant succulents. The more pots and pans you have for this, the better. 

But you can start with the few you have and grow from there. Populate your patio or front yard with succulents planted in pots and pans. 

You do not need to be a professional gardener to plant succulents in a pot or maintain the plant. Many materials you can read to gain more knowledge are out there. 

So, why should you plant succulents? Well, the reason is that succulent plants thrive with less watering than other plants. 

Before planting succulents in your used pot or pan, consider working on the drainage. Standing water in the pot could kill your plants. 

You have to ensure proper drainage to drill holes at the bottom of the pots or pans. The holes shouldn’t be too big so the water and soil won’t be lost through those channels. 

A 6mm to 8mm drill bit should work fine for drilling. And have the holes drilled from the inside out. 

Approximately 4 to 6 holes should be fine. The holes will ensure no standing water in the pot or pan. 

Note – Succulent plants’ roots can do well in shallow containers. But they need to be wide enough to accommodate the roots. 

A smaller-sized pot would constrict the plant’s roots and cause stunted growth. 

Furthermore, you should choose a suitable soil for your succulent plant. Find a potting mixture specifically designed for succulents. 

You can also paint your pot or pan before planting your succulent. Paint the handle, rim, inside, and outside area of the cookware to look more attractive. 

4. Donate to local charities

Another way to get those old pans and pots off your kitchen space is through a donation. If the cookware is still in proper condition, many charities and shelters will be willing to take it off your hands. 

These charities often lack the funds to get more cookware for those they support. So, you’re solving a problem by donating your cookware to them.

You can also talk to the head of the religion you belong to about donating some old piece of cookware that is still in good condition. Your donation doesn’t always have to be monetary. 

Goodwill and Salvation Army are two popular local charities that accept such donations. But if neither shows interest, you can ask for more suggestions for a charity that accepts such assistance. Even if the location is far away, you can mail it down. 

 There could also be people in your neighborhood that need those used pots and pans. Just ask around to see if anyone’s interested. 

Note – Do not give out a non-stick pot or pan that has been scratched. Unless you have been able to season them, keep in mind that using such cookware poses a high risk. 

5. Use as a DIY Holder

You can use those old pots and pans of yours to hold anything. Pots are deeper, so they may contain more items than pans. 

Even if this cookware no longer has handles, it doesn’t matter. You can still use them to hold diverse items. 

If you do some DIY fashion designing at home, store your thread spools in your old pots. It makes keeping the thread a breeze. 

Not just your thread spools. You can also store your wool yarn balls or other tools inside the pot and keep them somewhere safe around the house or by your side when working. 

Halloween is also upon us. You can store those candies and sweets in your old pots. Just have them filled to the brim with candies. Not just Halloween, you can do the same thing for Christmas and every other celebration. 

Now, here’s where you have to get a little bit creative. If your pots are old and unattractive, which may likely be the case, given that they have been used for years, you have to repaint them. 

You can use any paint you feel will make it look more attractive and top-notch. But bear in mind that you will not be using the pot for cooking any longer. 

It would help to give the paint time to dry up before placing your candies or storing any material inside. 

6. Let the kids have them

If you have cookware that is no longer presentable, and you can’t donate it to charity, let your little ones have it. 

Allow your kids to have their first cooking experience and see what the adults go through in the kitchen to prepare food every day. 

Let them play outside the kitchen. And keep an eye on them. Your kids probably know all the tools and ingredients needed to prepare a meal, so they may visit your kitchen to collect the additional utensils and components they need. 

So, you need to monitor how they conduct their play outside the house. Discourage your kids from entering the kitchen. As for utensils, a plastic spoon will be more convenient for them. 

You can also use the old pots to store your kids’ toys in their rooms. But ensure the pots are safe for the kids. There should be no sharp edge or object. 

Storing your kids’ toys in such a container will help them to learn how to be organized at a tender age. 

How to make new pots and pans last

There are a few things you can do to make your new cookware last when you do replace your worn and beaten cookware.

  • Don’t immediately rinse with cold water – Going from the heat of the stove to cold water will warp your metal cookware.
  • Avoid using metal utensils in non-stick pans – Metal utensils can scratch and damage the non-stick coating.
  • Handwash over dishwasher – Don’t put your pans in the dishwasher. While some brands of pans can go in the dishwasher, handwashing is best.

Can you recycle nonmetal cookware?

What if your pans aren’t metal? Ceramic and glass are other common cookware materials that will eventually become unusable.

Unfortunately, cookware made out of ceramic or tempered glass is not recyclable. These items will have to be reused or otherwise disposed of.

Summary of how to dispose of old cooking pots and pans

To responsibly dispose of old cookware, you must take more care than simply sending it to the dump. Luckily, the above options are fairly simple. Many specialized recycling companies will take old pots and pans.

If these companies are not an option, there are many ways to reuse old cookware. From using an old pot as a planter to displaying cleaned-up pans as decoration, your creativity is the limit.

Now you know how to dispose of old cooking pots and pans!


Can pots and pans be thrown away?

While you can throw away pots and pans to sit in a landfill, the better option would be to find a place to donate them to.

Can you put metal pots and pans in the recycling bin?

Many recycling companies will not take pots and pans. Specific companies have the right processes to recycle cookware.

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